Pregnancy and Depression

Pregnancy can be a wonderful time of waiting, expectation, and excitement. For some women, though, it comes with a lot of angst and uncertainty. What effects would that have on an unborn baby?

It is much better for an expectant mother to be happy and healthy – which can mean staying on anti-depressants – than it is for her to be a danger to herself and others. Medications like Zoloft, have not been shown to cause problems in fetuses, but it is generally untested.

Interestingly, studies have shown that more damage is caused in the long-term to babies whose mothers are severely depressed when the baby is in-utero than when they are exposed to anti-depressants. Severe maternal depression during pregnancy can result in problems socializing, delayed speech, and other problems in the child, whereas many antidepressants have shown no adverse affects on the baby.

It’s a difficult decision to take medication while pregnant, especially medication that is newer and widely untested on unborn babies. I was faced with that decision, but I knew the hell I’d gone through when I had attempted to go off all my meds, not long before I got pregnant; it was awful, and I couldn’t imagine nine months like that. I decided that a healthy mom was the best gift I could give my developing baby.

If you find yourself in this position, talk to your doctor about your options. Don’t believe the myth that pregnancy hormones will automatically make you happy; it’s not true. Women can become depressed during pregnancy, especially women with a history of depression or other pre-existing conditions (like manic-depressive illness).

Never quit your medications “cold turkey” on your own if you find out you’re pregnant; consult your doctor and make decisions together. If you are healthy and happy, your baby will likely be healthy and happy, too.

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